Tag Archives: choice

I’m a Feminist AND I Shave– Get Over It

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Lately I’ve been subjected to a glut of posts on social media about the social convention of shaving for women, and why it is holding us back as feminists.

If you haven’t seen these posts, Google it.  It is a thing.

There seems to be a general consensus that if you are a woman AND you shave, then you are allowing “the Man” to hold you hostage to misogynistic standards of beauty to which we have been systematically and habitually brain washed since childhood.

Apparently, because there are not any more important things going on in the world, like whether or not a flaming narcissist with a general disregard for human rights takes the throne of the free world, a conversation about the bodily hair of women has been started.  Feminists have been called to arms over the fact that the beauty industry has duped us lady folk into believing it is more esthetically pleasing to have shiny, hair free flesh.

My Hairy Feminist Sisters, I salute you, but. . .

Here’s the thing:

People need to shut the eff up about the fact that women shave their arm pits, legs, and/or lady bits.  I respect your right to be hairy, but my preference for a sleek physique does not make me less of a woman, feminist, or a crunchy-tree-hugging-hippie.

I get that people are just trying to stick up for women’s rights, and I am seriously not mocking anyone who choses not to shave.  I also understand that there are biological reasons we have fur, yadda, yadda, yadda.  But as with everything else directed at us women (probably including this post), this advocacy for pubic hair comes across as judgmental, at least to me.

I espouse this rant as someone who has done both- been hairy and clean shaven.  At one point in my life I chose not to shave, not because of any political agenda, but because I was curious about how it would feel and what it would look like.  It was cool.

Actually it wasn’t cool, it was warm, cuz you know, extra hair.  But you get what I’m saying.

My body hair at one point prompted my brother to tell me he could lose his car keys in my leg fur.  Others made jokes about having Jerry Garcia in a headlock.  One guy I dated at the time told me he loved it and found my arm pit hair incredibly arousing because it resembled two additional vaginas.  (???  Men.  AmIright?)

I took all of this feedback with a grain of proverbial salt because I was content with myself, in my own bushy skin.

Over the years, I’ve just realized I prefer to be clean shaven.  I don’t spend a great deal of time shaving, and don’t spend a lot of money on shaving products.  My hair is light and fair and does not need frequent pruning to begin with, not that I should even feel compelled to justify any of this to anyone.

But lately in the shower, when I reach for my pink lady razor, I’ve been feeling a twinge of discomfort, like I’m doing something wrong or embarrassing to womenkind.

Well, no more shall I feel less than for shaving.

Look, I’m still a granola and animal-right’s loving hippie peace freak.  I still do all sorts of crunchy things.  I wash my face with organic jojoba oil.  I practice meditation and take daily walks to “ground myself.” I try to be mindful. I voted for Bernie in the primary.  I purchase cruelty free beauty supplies.  I breastfed my daughter until she was four years old.

I am also a feminist who stands staunchly for women’s right to choice, freedom, and equality.

And yeah, I shave.  I buy pink razors and shaving cream that smells like raspberries.  I do.

I don’t do it for my husband or society (although 20 years ago when I graduated from college and dutifully read “What Color is Your Parachute” it was the general recommendation to shave up before an interview and so far this advice has worked pretty well for me).

I shave because I find it pleasing to my own esthetic, and because it is my right and my choice to do so, just as it is someone else’s right to grow their armpit hair and dye it rainbow colors (I kid you not.  Google it.  It’s a thing.)

Again, I have no problem whatsoever with women who feel more comfortable al natural. What I take issue with is the judgement that comes along with these posts that if we do shave we are not as good at being women and feminists.

Don’t we face enough judgement and vitriol for our every move as women and mother’s?  I know, as a working mom, I never feel like I am doing anything right, let alone living up to the grand and splendid tenet of feminism that Yes! We can have it ALL.

Please.  I beg of you.  Let me shave in peace.

I’d like to leave you with some lyrics from my OG feminist troubadour, Ani Difranco’s song “Little Plastic Castle”:

People talk about my image like I come in two dimensions

Like lipstick is a sign of my declining mind,

Like what I happen to be wearing the day that someone takes a picture

Is my new statement for all of womankind.

I wish they cold see us now, in rubber bras and leather shorts

Like some ridiculous new team uniform

For some ridiculous new sport

Quick someone call the girl police

And file a report.  

I dunno if Ms. Difranco shaves, or not.  But she got that one right on the nose.

Momaste to all of you women and moms out there who are working hard at whatever it is you do.  Take a minute to accept, appreciate and love yourself just the way you are.  You’re fabulous and I’m so happy you’re here.  The mom and woman in me bows to the mom and woman in you.

Telling Our Stories

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Good morning.

In my little corner of the world, there was a blizzard last week, and we are getting another huge dose of snow today.  Ugh.  Winter.

But I didn’t really sign on this morning to complain about the weather.

I wanted to let you know that a deeply personal and dark story I wrote was just posted over at the blog Sister Wives Speak.  If you have never checked out their blog before, I strongly encourage it.  It is a space where women and men share stories of difficult times and trauma in order to reach out to others and facilitate healing.  I’ve found it to be a very welcoming, warm, and positive space.

Anyway, I wrote this little piece about a chapter of my life which I’ve kept largely secret.  For some reason, last fall, I felt moved to start writing about it.  It was difficult, but also empowering.  My blog didn’t seem like the correct platform for this story, so I submitted it to the Sister Wives, and they graciously chose to publish it.

If you are so moved, I would love for you to check it out.  I’m feeling kind of vulnerable about it, so your comment love and support would also be greatly appreciated.  As always, thank you all for your continued readership and the community you have fostered here at Momaste.  I heart you all!

xo.

End Of The World– Getting Cozy With Dukkha

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The world is ending right now because there are dirty dishes in the sink and a bunch of moldering, half-eaten yogurt cups and tubes strewn throughout the house.

I just got home from the Urgent Care Center.  It is 8 p.m., and any mom who got up as early as I did this morning knows that 8 p.m. is the middle of the fucking night.

My husband is engaged in a power struggle with our seven year old son, Jack, over universe knows what.  My three year old, Emily, is wandering around like a lost lamb because she wants mama milk and cuddles before bed.

But first things first.

Since a huge vat of Purell or rubbing alcohol isn’t available, I hop in the shower.  It serves the dual purpose of warming my chilled, aching body, and cleansing off the filth of the walk in treatment place.  I had anxiety upon anxiety the entire time I was there as people coughed, hacked, wheezed, and made all sorts of moaning cacophony.  In the curtained area next to me, there was a woman chanting, “Germs, germs, germs, germs, germs,” over and over in a haunted whisper.  True story.  I can’t make this shit up.

The chest X-ray confirmed bronchitis and the doctor wrote me a script for antibiotic and a cough medicine, but then changed his mind when I told him I still breast feed twice a day.  He forgot to call the pharmacy and change the prescription, which resulted in an hour-long wait in the parking lot of the pharmacy, where I sat in my car, heat on full blast, shivering and crying.

Wait!  Before you stop reading because you hate me for bitching about First World Problems, please know it was pretty much the worst week of my life, followed by an exhausting weekend of poorly behaved children, and ending in body aches that rate waaaaayyyy at the grumpy and sad end of that smiley to grimace chart.

A client killed himself last week, and it left me reeling in confusion, guilt, panic, and fear.  While I have forced myself to accept there was nothing I could have done to prevent this tragedy, my heart has not caught up with my head on the matter, and being sick wears down the professional buffer I might have for such matters.

After spending the entire week in the aftermath of suicide, another employee of my program gave me her notice along with a few dozen clients to reassign.  Since my other clinician quit my program before the holidays, I have no one to reassign these clients to.  When I went, shaking and sobbing, to my supervisor for support, I was basically told to figure it out.

I came home looking for some solace, only to find my husband intended to work all weekend.  This is good news, in one way, because we need the money and he is freelance.  But it is bad news in terms of having the children, house duties, etc. ,and so on all to myself for the entire weekend.

So, contracting bronchitis was just the frosting on the crap cake I felt had been baked for me this week.  I feel like a jerk even writing that, while knowing I have access to better medical care and pharmaceuticals than 87% of the world.  (Note:  that is not a real statistic.  I’m making shit up because like I said, the world is fucking ending and who cares anyway.)

Sometimes I just need to vent.  Then I get sick of myself and get on with my life.

Some people have real problems.  I know this.  People like the family who lost their child in the most confounding, shocking, and traumatizing way last week.

After my shower, I hustle to put on PJ’s.  I ignore Jack’s tantrum and go straight to Emily, who is sleepy and sweet. She puts her hand on my heart as she snuggles into my breast, and touches my chin as light as a butterfly.

I’ve been contemplating the Buddhist concept of dukkha lately.  Dukkha roughly translates as “suffering,” and it is an important concept in Buddhism.  There has been ample dukkha in my life over the past few months. . .  the dukkha of motherhood; the dukkha of clinging to things during the process of our move last November; the dukkha of family issues at the holidays; the dukkha of yearning for things to be a certain way at work; the dukkha of physical illness; the dukkha of my anxiety and depression which has been rearing its ugly head over the past few weeks like a powerful and frightening dragon.

The dukkha of wanting to change the unchangeable, and to understand the incomprehensible.

And tonight, the dukkha of dishes left undone at the end of the night when I am sick and tired, and have already done dishes 17 times over the course of the weekend.

Basically, Buddha teaches that life is dukkha—  not that everything sucks, but that by its nature, our existence is flawed, impermanent, and difficult.  We can struggle against it and fight with it as something bad, or we can accept it for what it is and go from there.

What does that mean?

I don’t know.  And at the moment, I don’t really care.

I started writing a post last weekend about trying to sit with the grief and anxiety I felt in the light of my client’s death.  It was hard–  both to sit with and to write about–  because it made me fiercely restless.  I didn’t end up posting it.

Kuan Yin sat with the dragons and made friends with them.  What would it be like to do that?

I guess I could do the dishes.

Or I could not.

Maybe dukkha and I will cuddle up in bed with some Ceftin and Mucinex and try to get to know each other.  And maybe the world will keep ending, and I will lie in bed and hear things screeching and banging and popping outside my window.

I’m Not “Done” Having Babies, But I Have To Be

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Every month I hold my breath and wait.  I wait for that one week that has come every month since I was 12, with the exception of when I was pregnant.  I wait for that week both hoping and praying that it will and will not come.

I have two beautiful children.  A boy and a girl.  Both unique in appearance, personality and gender.  Perfection.  Two children who are healthy, strong, and smart.  How could I possibly roll the genetic dice again and get so freaking lucky?  What I have is so much more than I ever dreamed.

And yet. . .

There is a part of me that wishes for more.  There is a part of me that longs to feel another little being swim inside me like an otter under my ribs.  There is a horrible, gluttonous part of me that is not satisfied with the treasure before me.

For many reasons, my husband and I decided to not bring any more children into our world.  We just don’t have the resources of time, money, and space to give to another little human.  The physical, mental, and emotional energy we are exhausting with the two children we have is more than I could have ever imagined.  Not to mention the toll that parenthood takes on a marriage.

And at almost 39 years old, who can say that my “mature” eggs would be capable of producing another miracle.

For the most part, I have accepted this fate.

WARNING:  The following is not P.C.  Consider yourself warned if you chose to read ahead.

Somethings do make me feel bitter and angry.  I work in a profession where I have to watch parents and children who genuinely despise each other interact in ways that shock and disgust me.  I’m talking about moms who tell their own ten year old to “fuck off ” right in front of me!  Some families have five or more children.  These children grow up in abject poverty, chaos, and fear.  They bear witness to community, domestic, sexual, and substance abuses on daily basis from infancy.

I watch a mother become pregnant with yet another little being for whom she can not and does not want to care, and I feel rage.  Rage that these tiny humans were conceived without thought or love.  Rage that they are subject to violence, drugs, and mistreatment before they are even born.  Rage that they are then born into a world where they are not held enough, fed enough, sang or read to enough.  Rage that a human who is born intact out of a mother’s womb will then be have their spirit pulverized before my eyes.

It is almost more than I can bear to watch this cycle and know that there is very little I can give to their situation besides my gentle guidance and encouragement.  

How the hell is it fair that one woman can bear and mistreat seven babies, and yet, I am limited to two?  Or worse still, that there are women out there desperate to love and cherish a newborn, yet struggle with infertility?  

It is not for me to judge how many babies a woman gets to have, and I am not foolish enough to think I know the universe’s plan for all of those babies.  I know I’m jaded, but I don’t see the flip side of the scenario- large families where babies are welcomed and adored- often, if ever in my profession.  In my personal life, my friends have mostly limited their families to one or two children as well, again because that is what we can afford mentally, financially, logistically.

The other reason I want to keep having babies is because it means I am still young and fertile.  Child bearing is an incredibly mysterious, powerful, and sacred time.  But that time has passed for me.  I’ve had my turn.

It has struck me on more than one occasion lately that the next stop for me will be menopause.  How can that be?  I’ve only just become a mother in the last six years, and I am already knocking on the door of  Crone-hood?

When I really tune into my desire for more babies, it is partly this pure biological imperative.

There is another part that is not about having more babies, but being able to go back in time and experience again the babies that I already have.  I want to push Jack around in the shopping cart as a two month old,  have him smile up at me from his infant carrier like I am the only person in the universe.  I want Emily at seven months as she sits in the grass, clutching an entire peach and sucking on it like there is no tomorrow.  Jack laughing his head off at Kipper The Dog for the first time at 18 months.  Emily only a week old, kicking her newborn legs as she looks up at her mobile.  I want more of the babies that are already living in my house with me.

There is a line in one of my favorite Regina Spektor songs that saves my sanity almost every day:

“Love what you have and you’ll have more love.”

When I think of the love that I have, it is plenty.  In this crazy country of excess and super-sizing it is almost hard to remember what matters most- being present and aware of the love and potential in just this moment.  When I think of this quote, I can bring myself around 180 degrees.  It doesn’t matter to me what others have and what I don’t have when I think of this quote, and I don’t need to be angry or bitter.

Gazing at Jack and Emily until I feel almost blind, I know that there will be times where I don’t feel quite done bearing babies, but I have to be, and that’s okay.

Be Love, Not Fear

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In the past week, I think everyone has asked themselves “what is happening to our world?”  Bombings, shoot-outs, explosions.  It seems like stuff that can only happen in movies, not in a city that I love to spend time in only minutes away from my home.

The photos of Boston, empty and evacuated, were haunting yesterday.  Never in my lifetime has a major, metropolitan epicenter been shut down to find suspects of a heinous crime.  Never!  I mean this is BOSTON!  The birthplace of patriotism, and one of our country’s largest cities!  Needless to say, I am still in a state of semi-shock.

For a while on Monday, after the attack at the Boston Marathon, my faith in humanity wavered.

But watching brave Bostonians rally and support one another during this scary and difficult time has restored my hope.

After the Newtown tragedy last December 14, everyone was holding hands, singing “kum bye yah,” and talking about practicing random acts of kindness.  For maybe a month, people bought each other coffee and let each other pass in traffic.  And then, what happened to that spirit?  It kind of evaporated, or at least lost its head of steam.

I’ve been contemplating a lot about the Lojong teaching of “Always maintain a joyful mind.”  This isn’t something at which I excel.  Anyone who knows me will probably describe me as sarcastic, jaded, a little bitter.  So, this week, when I lacked perspective on the human situation because of trauma and tragedy, I thought of this slogan:  “Always maintain a joyful mind.”  It can be really hard to do in this nutty world of ours, or we can chose to just do it.

I stumbled across this beautiful video on Facebook this morning.  It really gave me some perspective and filled my heart and mind with joy.  I hope you enjoy it too.

Shocking! … Please LIKE & SHARE This One! 

I hope people will see the cowardly actions of those bombers as a call to love and peace as opposed to hate and fear.  And I hope this spirit of hope and joy can be sustained for longer than it was after Newtown.  We can change the world by choosing our attitudes.  I am reminding myself constantly to focus on this amazing power, to love and keep a joyful mind in the midst of unbelievable cruelty.  Thinking this way is oddly empowering and really does a lot to dispel the darkness.

Why Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Has No Place in My Journey as a Mom

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD, is an anxiety disorder which makes people hyper-focus on certain rituals and routines to help them feel calm and safe.  The person may be compelled to do a lot of checking, light switching, and hand washing.  Some people feel like they need to count to certain numbers, tap out specific rhythms, or repeat rhymes many times over.

There is a fear for people with OCD that if they do not accomplish their rituals, then something bad will happen.  OCD interferes with a person’s ability to live their life.  Rituals can get so intense that people will lose their jobs or families if OCD is left untreated.

That said, I have never been diagnosed with OCD.

But I am the type of person who freaks out a little if there are any dishes in the sink when I go to bed at night.  I have prided myself on having a clean car, on always being able to find my keys, and on never having any stray papers on my desk.   I’m organized.  I like rules.

As I write, I sit amongst the carnage of my daughter’s first birthday party.  I calmly sip a cup of Mother’s Milk tea, ignore the dishes and feel tired and sore to the core of my being.  I just can’t pick up another shred of wrapping paper, sweep another mashed chip, or wipe up any more cake.

It is either a sign of deep spiritual transcendence, or of supreme sleep-deprived laziness that I have gotten to a place where I can let things lie.

Either way, I like it here.

I haven’t been here long.  I really bucked this journey, and I still freak a little if there are dishes in the sink.  My house is by no means slovenly, but I started making conscious choices about what I wanted to stress.  For example, do I want to clean up the train tracks on Jack’s floor before bedtime, or do I want to sit down with him and read him a story?  Do I want to do laundry as soon as I get home from work because it is taunting me from its basket in the hall, or do I want to watch Em chew on board books?  Do I want to get up and go shopping before the Sunday crowds, or do I want to snuggle with my kids and husband for a few more minutes?  It is my choice.

As a full-time working mom, I have come to the conclusion that I just can’t do it all.  As amazing as my support system is, there are still  a lot of threads unraveling and drifting in the breeze. I think of what I would rather it say on my tombstone:  “She did all the dishes,” or, “She loved her family for every second that there was.”

The choice is obvious.

I live on the East Coast and a few weeks ago, we had a tropical storm.  My neighbor, a retired, senior citizen went down to the docks to check on his boat.  He was telling me, with a grin, about how the dock swayed under his feet.  I said I would have been scared.  “Nah!” he said, “You’ve got to do these things.  Life is short and death is long.  What is the worst that could happen?”  As morbid as it sounds, his words rang true to me.

I made a choice to kiss good bye a lot of the rituals and routines that made me feel safe and organized.  If Jack’s room is a mess (and it is always a mess), I close his door so I don’t have to look at it, rather than argue with him about cleaning it.  I do think organization and cleanliness is crucial, but he is only five. He will learn sooner or later, and the lesson will probably be more effective if I am not standing over him like a drill sergeant.

I don’t like myself when I am frustrated because there is crap caked onto the stove that I can’t get off.  I like myself when I am relaxed and playing with my children.

So far, nothing bad has happened.  And letting go of these compulsions to have order and control is oddly liberating.  Although I was never obsessive and compulsive to the point of risking my career or family, I was at risk of missing a lot of beautiful moments, or just the chance to put my feet up on the couch.